Hong Kong’s high court on Friday removed four opposition lawmakers from the city’s legislative assembly after it invalidated their oaths of office. A former British colony, Hong Kong became a Chinese territory 20 years ago under a “one country, two systems” arrangement that guaranteed a wide range of freedoms not enjoyed in China, including a direct vote for half of the 70-seat legislature. But activists say the city government’s effort in disqualifying democratically elected lawmakers is a direct assault on those freedoms.
Hong Kong’s newly-elected chief executive, Carrie Lam, who has vowed to build a stronger relationship with the opposition, said she would not intervene in the case, however. “Building bridges still has to be done in a lawful way,” she told Reuters in an interview. “I don’t think this chief executive, or any government official, should compromise on the rule of law just because we want to be friendly. But I’m sure the judicial process will go on.”
Hong Kong lawmakers Nathan Law, Lau Siu-lai, Leung Kwok-hung and Edward Yiu added words to their oaths, read slowly or changed their tone of voice to express “a doubt on, or disrespect of, the status of the People’s Republic of China as a legitimate sovereign of the Hong Kong Special Adminisitrative Region,” the court said in a summary of its ruling.